Richmond County Teacher of the Year Finalist: Kia Mills

There’s no place like home for Richmond County schools Teacher of the Year finalist Kia Mills.

 

The Academy of Richmond County graduate opted to stay in the Augusta area and is now a math teacher at A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School.

“I chose to stay to give back to my community and make a difference in students’ lives like my previous teachers did for me,” she said.

The difference Mills has made over the last 12 years of teaching has earned her a nomination for top teacher. The other nominees are Tonya Fulton (Morgan Road Middle), Brigitte Holmes (Hephzibah High), Sandra Owens (Freedom Park K-8) and Denise Pennywell (Glenn Hills Elementary).

Mills strives to get her students excited about learning.

“Always be a lifelong learner,” she tells her students. “Always want to learn about whatever you want to do. Just be passionate about it.”

Passion is something Mills knows is important. She says it is valuable in the teaching profession.

“You have to be passionate because if you’re not, the kids will definitely know.”

Mills’ students have taught her how to be flexible, changing as needed to best educate them. Her students are not the only ones she hopes to inspire. Mills wants to help other teachers succeed and show them how to better prepare for the classroom. She believes being named Teacher of the Year might give her a chance to do so.

“I believe this would give me an opportunity to provide professional learning to teachers locally as well as across the state, network with other teachers in the state of Georgia or beyond, and attend conferences that would allow me to network with other educators,” Mills said.

The Teacher of the Year Banquet will be held Nov. 2 at the Augusta Marriott. The recipient will receive a car, trophy, gift certificates and more.

Hometown: Augusta

Family: Mom (Valda Simpkins), Dad (William Mills), Brother (William Mills II)

Education: Bachelor’s degree Voorhees College, Master’s of Business Administration Troy University, Specialist degree from Cambridge College, working on doctorate from Argosy University

What is the most enjoyable aspect of teaching?

Seeing the students make connections about what they are learning and how it applies to real world. An example of this: currently we are working on decimals and students are working in stations. One station is planning a vacation, another is planning a field trip, one station is comparing cell phone carriers and plans, and the last station is comparing the better buy for buying groceries. Once the students started researching and completing the assignment, they couldn’t believe that adults do this all the time.

What would you change about the teaching profession?

I would change the amount of time a student teacher spends in the classroom. Being a mentor teacher, I have noticed that new teachers struggle with classroom management, establishing rituals and routines, and keeping up with day to day meetings of being a teacher. I believe more time spent in the classroom would help with classroom management and establishing rituals by collaborating with other teachers. New teachers definitely need a support system to help them develop to a model teacher.

 

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